SUGAR SKULL LINE DRAWINGS
Sugar skull line drawings are a great lesson in which to teach symmetry, line and pattern, plus a dive into the South American culture.
The Sugar Skull is a symbol of Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, a holiday in the beginning of November that honors the life of a loved one who has died. Here in Santa Barbara, there are festivals that celebrate this Mexican and South American holiday where children can decorate their own sugar skulls and other art activities. It’s truly a wonderful, family-oriented, not to mention very colorful event!
Take a look!
Drawing a Symmetrical Skull
I purchased a very cool coloring book at the beginning of the school year and used the drawings as a starter to this line drawing lesson. I photocopied about 5 different front-view skulls from the coloring book and allowed each child to choose their own skull. Divide the coloring book photo-copy in half vertically, aligning the two sides of the skull and not the paper corners. You want to see half of the skull.
Fold the 12″ x 9″ drawing paper in half vertically and draw the contour lines of the skull with a black marker. Draw circles/ovals for eyes, nose shape and teeth.
Tracing the Skull
Fold the paper so that the skull drawing is now on the inside. The paper should look like a book with the front cover blank and the inside should show the skull drawing. When the paper is closed, the skull lines will show through the front paper. Trace over these lines then invert the paper and retrace the lines. Confused? It’s easier to do it than explain it! Once you show your students, they will understand right away, so don’t over think it.
It sometimes helps to trace the lines up against a sunny window. This isn’t completely necessary but the kids loved getting out of their chairs and moving around.
Drawing the Sugar Skull Details
Now that the child has a head complete with eyes, a nose and some teeth, they can mix and match the photocopies and add their own decorations. Most students in 5th grade will have the drawing skills to create a really good skull but some few, won’t. To help the kids make sharp lines, sit down with the “scribblers” and show how to connect lines and not leave lines hanging.
Coloring the Sugar Skulls
I just purchased packs of Prismacolor markers. They are wonderful despite the fact that over a dozen were damaged (no ink!). The kids colored in each shape. Some decided to leave the skull white while others colored the entire skull.
Flowers, especially marigolds, are a big part of Day of the Dead. The idea is to cut flower shapes from colored paper and place around the skull. To start, kids cut their sugar skulls from the white paper and glued to a 11″ x 14″ sheet of black paper. Then they added the flowers around the skull.
I set up a table in the back of the room with scissors, glue and some Mod Podge. At first I allowed the kids to add their own glitter, but then realized what a bad idea that was, so I quickly switched the glitter to another table. The kids added glue details at the big table and then walked over to me to sprinkle glitter over selected flowers. Much better.
The range of details in the sugar skulls line drawings are fascinating. Some kids went very simple with the coloring of the sugar skulls just to get to the flowers and glitter stage (that would be me) while others decided flower and glitter wasn’t their thing (and it wasn’t necessarily a gender thing).
This is a sampling of some of the finished work of my students sugar skull line drawings. Most kids finished coloring and cutting out their skulls in two, 50-minute class times, while others will need another 30 minutes to finish the flower details.
For more art lessons inspired by Dia de los Muertos and Mexican culture, click HERE.
Download a free Sugar Skull line drawings guide by clicking the image below. Enter your name and email and we’ll send it straight to you!
I did this very lesson today using the same coloring pages! I will definitely add the marigolds now after seeing your lesson! It really adds to the artwork. Thanks so much for sharing your great ideas. You were the reason I became an art teacher ….long story.
I love this! One ?, do you make the painted paper ahead of time or do the students do that? Wondering the same thing for the pumpkin lesson too. Thanks
Yes, we make the painted paper first. I actually did this with the Kinders on their first day of art. The 5th graders used scrap painted papers that we had left over.
Love this. Any suggestions on something other than prismacolor pens? I just looked them up and they are super expensive.
I use Crayola broad tip markers as well. Much cheaper!
This is a great project. I love seeing all the individual variety in the end – each expressing their own style! You can’t go wrong with glitter!
Did this with my students today for Halloween and they were very engaged! Googled the sugar skull colouring pages, used a variety pack of Crayola markers with lots of bright colours and different coloured highlighters to colour in the skull. For the flowers, I offered construction paper and origami paper in many colours and patterns. We didn’t get to the sparkles yet because I didn’t have any. Thank you for this simple art lesson with gorgeous results. It was very easy to prepare and do. I also learned a lot about the Day of the Dead amd the history of sugar skulls; very fascinating!
Thanks so much Patty, youve done it again. My Year 6 boys said “this is the best art lesson Ive ever done!!!!”
And so Simple. I also google sugar skull colouring pages but also a blank skull to give differentiation for those who wanted to design their own.I also started the lwesson with a document outlining the history and significance of DaY OF THE DEAd! rEALLY ENGAGING, TAUGHT THEM LOTS, HAD FUN AND BEAUTIFUL RESULTS.
aLL IN ALL, A FABULOUS SUCCESS. yOU NEVER FAIL TO INSPIRE.
tHANKS SO MUCH, TRULY.
(ps i HAVE AN INTERN THIS TERM, SO YOU HELPED ME LOOK PRETTY DARN CLEVER
Ha! Best testimonial ever! Thanks, Kim!
I’m am just starting to create a fine arts program at my sons elementary school. I’m so glad I came across your site. You are going to be a hit here! I was hoping to start off with Dia de Los Muertos and this is perfect. I have to have a different version of this lesson for each grade level so that will be the next fun challenge. But I do love how this came together. Do you know how long this lesson takes? I only have an hour…
I do love how this came together. Do you know how long this lesson takes? I only have an hour…
It’ll take about 2 1-hour classes to do the full lesson but you can omit the paper flowers or just color them instead.
I do not understand why you have the students only trace 1/2 of the skull at a time? Why not jus trace the entire skull at once? Is there a specific reason for this that I am not seeing?
Yes you can trace the whole skull. My class was practicing drawing symmetrical objects and this is a fun way to break down the drawing and create a symmetrical side. We didn’t trace the coloring pages. Kids had to look at the coloring pages and draw their own. Does that help?
I cannot find the link for the sugar skull coloring book? Can you point me in the right direction? Thanks!
Sorry..we removed it as it was a dead link. You can search Amazon for some related coloring books. Thanks!
This is hard???
Download sugar skulls free drawing guide does not work when I click the click here button. Nothing downloads. Please fix. I would have done this with my students but didn’t get any resource help. Thanks. The email has nothing about the sugar skulls in it.
Click on the white box that says “click here”. Enter your name and email in the pop up box. We’ll email you the PDF file. If you are on a phone, try a desktop or laptop. 🙂
I use my phone and print WI do. Love all these ideas
I have tried and tried and tried to download the skull but it keeps sending me back to the login page.
Can you contact email@example.com? They’ll help you out 🙂
Looks great-I’ll try this out.
Love the bright colors! I will be doing this for the Spanish teacher. Thanks!
wanted a change from Halloween with my P7’s so did a compare and contrast with Die de los Muertos. it worked really well
good job with the sugar skulls
Hi! Love this, Can you email me the PDF file.
Thank you so much!
Hi Amanda. This is such a fun lesson. You can get the PDF emailed to you by clicking on the button. We hope you enjoy it!
It was a beautiful thing to do and all of mine turned out perfect! You have a unique art sense and it inspires me.
I would love to use this with my class.
Awesome! I have middle school and am teaching Spanish.
Love his idea!